By Jacqueline Sewornu, Kwesi Acheampong and Frederick Acquah
All people of African descent whether they live or are in any other part of the world are Africans and belong to the African nation. – Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah
As though awoken from eternal sleep, I brush off the dirt that perhaps blinds my vision. I was back where I belonged, Africa. I hoped my vision of Pan Africanism lived on, ingrained in the hearts and minds of the countless generations that came after I passed. I hoped something had been done to somehow make those great dreams we had a reality. After that great proclamation, “Ghana Our beloved country is free foreverrrr!!!”, I sought to create a United States of Africa. This ideology which we termed Pan Africanism, called for commitment of African leaders to guide their countries to gain independence and freedom from colonial rule, consolidate this freedom, create a united Africa and undergo economic and social reconstruction of the country, Africa.
You celebrate me a 100 years after my birth, what exactly are you celebrating? Is it the dam I left behind decades ago that cannot even power the nation any longer? Sheer disappointment. I am confronted with an Africa I never imagined. Did the white man return to colonize us or did we try to copy them? Was there something wrong with our black skin and our own natural hair, or did people just become fairer and changed the texture of their hair as the world evolved? Accra is bustling with activity, petty trade and hawking here and there but full of slums. Where are the factories? What happened to our economies? Ghana found oil but of what use it to us if we cannot extract it ourselves but rely on the wisdom of the white man? Citizens complain about excessive importation of basic goods. Not the kind of industrialization I hoped to return to. I see groups of Ghanaians gathered in loud conversations about foreign football leagues while little was said about the AFCON which stars our own black stars and other prominent African teams. Is this still Africa, where towns and cities in Nigeria and Ghana go days, even months without electricity to power our factories, hospitals and our homes? Clusters of people in the streets of Ghana mumble words and chants like “Mahama ne ne dumsor yi” and “dum sor dum dum sor”.
The problems seem to have only worsened not only in Ghana but across the entire continent. What happened to my ideals about economic liberalization from the whites? Where is the sense of Pan Africanism? If my colleagues, Patrice Lumumba of the Republic of Congo and Marcus Garvey of Jamaica were here, they would cry of a failed vision.
They would see an Africa where peace and unity mean nothing as conflict and unrest have plunged deep into her heart like a dagger with nations such as South Sudan seceding and others fighting among themselves. They would see an Africa where the youth seem to hail and celebrate the likes of Hollywood, Bollywood and are busily trying to be like the same man from whom we sought to be freed. We too now have Nollywood and Ghallywood. Could we not set higher standards for ourselves than to emulate their actions? How does the Africa of today understand Pan Africanism? Pan African ideals which were prominent during the era of the late 1950s and early 1960s has become almost irrelevant.
Perhaps Africa has never been as united as it was when we sought to liberate each other from the grips of colonialism and sadly, she may never for years to come. We fought tirelessly for freedom yet we still remain in the chains of mental slavery. It should be of no surprise that in 1981, Bob Marley sings of emancipation from mental slavery, saying none but ourselves can free our minds”.
Africa needs to go back to seeking freedom and independence, but this time from mental slavery. Then and only then can we unite.